The Heart of Friendship

Posted June 17, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

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KNOCK! KNOCK!

No one is home. I’m visiting a special friend today.

Take time to visit your special friends!

NATIONAL DAIRY MONTH

Posted June 10, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: National Dairy Month

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Did you know that cows are very generous creatures? They give us milk, milk, and more milk.

Dairy products like milk, cheese, and ice cream are made possible by cows. These products provide us with calcium, vitamin D, potassium, and protein. So, grab your favorite dairy product and celebrate National Dairy Month. And while you’re at it, give three cheers for our hard-milking cows!

Milk it!

Got Milk?
Say Cheese!

One Happy Man!

As you enjoy delicious dairy treats, take a look at these mooving books.

Clarabelle: Making Milk and So Much More

I’ll Love You Till The Cows Come Home

Mootilda’s Bad Mood

Cow Says Meow

Picture Books I Enjoyed Reading

Posted June 3, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Picture Book Review, Picture Books

These are a few of the books I picked up at my local library that I found enjoyable. Do any of these interest you?

Find Fergus written and illustrated by Mike Boldt, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2020

Fergus is a silly bear. He doesn’t know where to find a good place to hide. He hides behind a skinny tree. He hides in a crowd of bunnies. He hides among elephants and moose. With a little practice, Fergus finally finds a perfect place to hide. Can you find Fergus?

Avacado Asks: What Am I? written and illustrated by Momoko Abe, Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2021

When a little girl at a grocery store asks if an avocado is a fruit or a vegetable, Avocado suddenly doesn’t know where he belongs in the store. Is he a fruit? A Vegetable? An herb, a fish, cheese, egg…? He is feeling lost and lonely until Tomato helps Avocado understand the many things he is good at being. Avocado and Tomato agree being themselves is good enough!

Zonia’s Rain Forest written and illustrated by Juana Martinez Neal, Candlewick, 2021

This beautifully illustrated book is about a young Asháninka girl who lives in the Peruvian Amazon rain forest. She happily greets her animal friends each day until the day she sees something she has never seen before. Trees in the rain forest are being cut down. The little girl knows the forest needs help, and she vows to protect it. This book is a call to action to help save the Amazon rain forest.

Mars! Earthlings Welcome written by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Stevie Lewis, Henry Holt and Co., 2021

Stacy McAnulty has added another delightful book to her universe series. This time readers learn about Mars. This kid-friendly book is filled with wordplay, humor, and lots of information. How about a trip to Mars?

Making “Scents” of Life

Posted May 27, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , , , ,

When my Bloomerang tree presented itself with a bounty of blossoms, I was more than excited. I’ve always loved the smell of lilacs. From the day I discovered the tiny buds on the tree until the buds grew into full-blown lilacs, I was anxious. The weather was good. The weather was bad. The weather said frost and that frosted me. I wanted to take the tree inside to protect it, but it was attached to the ground. After a few weeks of worry, the buds slowly began to blossom. During that time, a robin built its nest in the crook of the tree. Going near the tree caused the mama bird to become overly excited. I learned to quickly DUCK as I admired the tree and the animal life growing in it.

When the blossoms were in full array, the glorious smell of lilacs wafted through the air. I was immediately transported to my youth. After a year of dealing with COVID-19, not seeing family or friends, wearing masks, grocery shopping at six in the morning, and being stuck inside the house, the scent of the lilacs lifted my spirits. It brought me back to a time when lilacs graced our backyard and life was simpler. It was a time when children could play in the park by themselves, ride bikes freely, walk to the store down the block, play outside until a familiar whistle called them home.

My life has been filled with wonderful family and friends and very few worries, but this past year I feel like the world has been turned upside down. An ugliness has crept into our everyday lives. We all need to work harder to bring calm and kindness back into our world. Sometimes I wish we could go back to when life was not as complicated as it is today.

It’s time to stop and smell the lilacs. 

Don’t Be Smug! A PB Review

Posted May 20, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Humor, Picture Book Review

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Sometimes you just need a good laugh, and Smug Seagull provided that for me. This book is written and illustrated by Maddie Frost. The format is a combination of prose and graphic picture book. Seagull has a high opinion of himself and his masterful way of snatching snacks from unsuspecting beachgoers. He thinks he is “the best snack swiper from shore to shore.” Until…the day Seagull confronts a small crab.  Seagull’s confidence is shaken when he is unable to snatch a french fry from Crab. Crab continues to outwit Seagull’s efforts. When Seagull tries to snatch snacks from beachgoers, they fight back. Seagull is devastated as he realizes he has lost his swipe. Seagull abandons hope and decides to move to a lake and “eat soggy breadcrumbs with ducks.” Until…Crab shows up once again and shows Seagull how easy it is to snag a snack just by being cute and courteous. Seagull teams up with Crab and discovers a little humility goes a long way. The hilarious text and illustrations in this book are sure to keep readers laughing.

Zoomed Out!

Posted May 13, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life

Tags: , ,

I love Zoom as a way of connecting with people. Over the past year, Zoom has been a godsend to keep me in touch with family and friends.

As a writer, I’m constantly on Zoom. There are writing conferences, critique groups, writing classes, author webinars, etc. COVID-19 has made writing conferences much more affordable now that they are offered virtually. Because of this, I’m taking advantage of more and more of them.

There are bad things and good things about these opportunities. Different time zones present a problem with my schedule. Too early. Too late. Dinner time. Length of meetings. A perfect Zoom/webinar lasts no longer than one hour. After that, my mind, ears, and eyes begin to wander. The good thing is that most are recorded so I can catch up later at my own pace. The bad thing is I tend to jump into Zoom opportunities too often. I need to rectify that. Right now, I’m backlogged, trying to catch up on webinars and conferences I’ve missed. All this is eating into my writing time. That is not good.

I am zoomed out!!

Did I mention FaceTime? Don’t get me started!

A Family Derby Day!

Posted May 6, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Life and Family

Tags: ,

It’s always special when we’re able to get together with family – especially now that we’re all vaccinated. It’s even more fun when we can dress up with hats for ladies and bow ties for gentlemen and enjoy the Kentucky Derby together. A mint julep for the adults in the crowd helps, too!

Welcome! Choose a hat. Choose a bow tie.

Making adjustments.

Enter!

Feast!

Enjoy!

A horse race inside. A turkey trot outside.

If you love horses, you will love this book.

The True Story of ZIPPY CHIPPY: The Little Horse That Couldn’t written by Artie Bennett and illustrated by Dave Szalay, NorthSouth Books, 2020.

A PORTRAIT IN POEMS: The Storied Life of GERTRUDE STEIN & ALICE B. TOKLAS

Posted April 29, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Poetry Month

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A Portrait in Poems: The Storied Life of Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas written by Evie Robillard and illustrated by Rachel Katstaller. Kids Can Press, 2020.

In order to give this book a review it deserves, I’m posting a review from the University of Wisconsin-Madison Cooperative Children’s Book Center CCBC Choices 2021.

“A pitch-perfect picture book about Gertrude Stein’s life in Paris focuses on her art collection, her writing, her famous Salon, and her relationship with Alice B. Toklas. Not a word is wasted in this engaging, masterful account. Wisconsin author Robillard’s well-rounded portrait of Stein (and Toklas, too) includes just the right excerpts from Stein’s writing to give readers a sense of her singular style, her wit, her Steiny-ness. The gouache and colored pencil illustrations flawlessly echo the tone of the poems that comprise the text—both playful and profound, rather like Stein and Toklas themselves. They also extend the sense of place that was so important to Stein and her kindred spirits: Paris, specifically 27 rue de Fleurus “…a place that was once filled with paintings— / bright, bold, wild, impossible paintings. / And in that place lived a woman named Gertrude Stein / and her brother Leo. / And later on, her partner, Alice.” (Ages 5-9)” (CCBC Choices 2021, p. 21, PDF File)

Choices is a list of books published in the previous year and recommended for their excellence by the Cooperative Children’s Book Center librarians.

I love this book, and no one can review it better than the librarians at the CCBC!

Today Is Earth Day!

Posted April 22, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: Earth Day

Tags: , , , , ,

In 1970, Gaylord Nelson, a Wisconsin senator, established the first Earth Day to bring awareness to air and water pollution. Fifty-one years later, taking care of the Earth is more important than ever. The theme of this year’s Earth Day is Restore Our Earth. Environmental issues are taking place across the world. It’s up to everyone to act responsibly in the challenges that confront us.

Books to celebrate Earth Day

Hello, Earth! Poems to our Planet written by Joyce Sidman and illustrated by Miren Asiain Lora, Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, February, 2021.

Once Upon Another Time written by Matt Forrest Esenwine and Charles Ghigna and illustrated by Andrés F. Landazábal, Beaming Books, March, 2021.

The Outdoor Scientist: The Wonder of Observing the Natural World written by Temple Grandin, Philomel Books, April, 2021.

Treaty Words: For as Long as the Rivers Flow written by Aimée Craft and illustrated by Luke Swinson, Annick Press, March, 2021.

Wonder Walkers written and illustrated by Micha Archer, Nancy Paulsen Books, March, 2021.

Poetry: A Tribute to Friendship & Dictionary for a Better World

Posted April 15, 2021 by Cathy Ogren
Categories: National Poetry Month

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In my previous blog, I talked about National Poetry Month and included book suggestions to celebrate poetry. That blog inspired my very first best friend to create a poem of her own – an ode to our friendship. It brought back fond memories and touched my heart.

Karen Goelz Rodgers and Me

I met my first friend in Milwaukee
Many long years ago.
The fun we two had,
In olde dresses clad
These two little girls in Milwaukee


We played in the attic
We played in the yard
The old apple tree we did climb
Life back in the day was simply sublime
For the two little girls in Milwaukee

Time went by as time often does
Other friends we both did make
We wed, had families, jobs, and things
From time to time gave the other a ring
And remembered the days in Milwaukee

Two grandma’s we are now
Separated by miles,
Connected by memories of an earlier time
And perhaps the ‘silliest’ rhyme!
Those two little girls from Milwaukee

~Karen Goelz Rodgers

There is joy in poetry! Thank you, my dear friend. 

Dictionary for a Better World: Poems, Quotes, and Anecdotes from A to Z written by Irene Latham & Charles Waters and illustrated by Mehrdokht Amini, Carolrhoda Books, 2020.

Behold this book! As the title says, this book is a dictionary. The carefully chosen words, appear in alphabetical order, are meant to inspire readers to think and to make a difference in themselves and the world. Each spread has a poem that relates to the word. Different poetic forms are used throughout the book. Each spread also contains a quote, an anecdote that relates to the word, and an activity you can try to grow and expand your world to make it a better place. This is a perfect book to share with others and celebrate National Poetry Month!


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